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The incidence and outcomes of patients with acute kidney injury in a multidisciplinary intensive care unit in Durban, South Africa

M A Khuweldi
D L Skinner
K de Vasconcellos


Background. Acute kidney injury (AKI) in critically ill and resource-limited settings is under investigated.
Objectives. To describe the incidence, outcomes and healthcare burden of AKI in a multidisciplinary intensive care unit (ICU) in Durban, South Africa (SA).
Methods. All adult patients admitted to the ICU at King Edward VIII Hospital from January 2016 to June 2016, who did not have end-stage renal disease and survived for more than 6 hours after admission were evaluated for AKI using the kidney disease improving global outcomes (KDIGO) creatinine criteria. Potential risk factors for AKI and an association between AKI and outcomes including ICU mortality and length of stay were analysed.
Results. We screened 204 patients for inclusion into the study and 26 patients were excluded. About half of the patients (50.5%; n=90/178) who were included in the study were diagnosed with AKI at the time of admission and 16.3% (n= 29/178 developed AKI in the ICU. Among the patients who had AKI on admission, 50% (n=45/90) were classified as KDIGO stage1, 21.1% (n=19/90) as stage 2 and 28.8% (n=26/90) as stage 3. Less than one-third (24.7%; n=44/178) of the patients who developed AKI in the ICU were classified as KDIGO stage 1, 14% (n=25/178) were stage 2, and 28% (n=50/178) were stage 3. The mortality rate for patients with AKI on admission was 40.0% (n=36/90) compared with 39.8% (n=35/88) for those without AKI on admission (p=0.975). The mortality rate for all patients with AKI was 46.2% (n=55/119) compared with 27.1%  n=16/59) in patients who did not develop AKI (p=0.014).
Conclusion. AKI is common in critically ill patients presenting to a tertiary ICU in Durban, SA. AKI is associated with increased mortality and length of stay in the ICU. Strategies to prevent the development or worsening of AKI must be emphasised. These include prevention or at least early treatment of sepsis, adequate fluid resuscitation, aggressive haemodynamic optimisation and avoidance of nephrotoxins. This is especially important in settings where there is limited access to renal replacement therapy (RRT).